Quiet kicks off with the tale of Rosa Parks. The author imagined – and maybe I did too – that Miss Parks was a stately woman with a bold personality who could stand off against a bus full of people, an irate driver, and the police, and win – but she wasn't. She was small, and quiet, and tired, and simply refused – quietly – on that particular evening to comply with a stupid rule. And the author asks "How could you be shy and courageous?" This surprised me. Aren't the shy inherently courageous? What extroverts do without thinking – from asking questions in meetings or class to going to parties – introverts see as hurdles to be got over. Extroverts have to be brave in extraordinary circumstances. The shy have to be brave every damn day.
This sets the stage for the book. I learned quite a lot, but questioned some of the conclusions and directions the author went with, and in the end I can't say I feel the power the subtitle mentions. It's possible, and I see how – but it's a hard row to hoe, and all the other metaphors in "Hard Knock Life".
I should say, before I begin to maunder and meander about the book, that Kathe Mazur does a lovely job of the reading. She maintains a mostly neutral tone, so that her voice merges with the work; she disappears into the narration, for the most part. I'm curious about how her style would work with fiction; with non-fiction it's perfect.
I scored 19 out of 20 in the evaluation quiz in this book's first chapter; my only diversion from pure introversion (sorry 'bout that) is that I do like to multitask. I don't like to just watch tv – I'll be on the computer at the same time, or sewing, or something, anything. I hate driving with just the radio on now – if I don't have an audiobook in my ear I feel like I'm wasting valuable time. But even this might be a result of living in an extroverted world; I've had to learn how to multitask in my jobs, and it's sloshed over into life.
Being an introvert (with the addition of shyness, which, I find, is not the same thing – just shoot me now) … For me, that means that almost every morning when it came time to go to school I would feel sick. I had a ridiculously high absentee rate, because in general school was hell for me. I liked the classes, loved the way the world opened up a little every day, even kind of liked homework sometimes. But being expected to participate, being called on whether or not I raised my hand, having to participate in the group projects and readings-aloud and other torments teachers love to devise … Having to cope with my classmates, even those I considered friends… When I was in my mid teens I saw Dead Poets Society for the first time, and I was shattered. I was, I am Todd Anderson (only with much better parents). The wonderful, fictional Mr. Keating recognized Todd's limits, and knew how to move him past them. I never met the teacher who cared to do that – I never had a Mr. Keating, or even a Neil. (If you don't know what I'm talking about go watch the movie. Yawp.)
In elementary school, in high school, in art school, had I been outspoken, had I been outgoing, had I at least been able to speak up and say "Oy! Over here!" – things might have been different. I wasn't able. Knowing that without a drastically different setting things I couldn't have been able – that alone made this a worthwhile read. "At school you might have been prodded to come 'out of your shell'—that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter". Well, yeah. And prying a snail out of its shell will have disastrous results for the snail.
And then there's work. The same thought processes go on in the average manager's minds as in the average teacher's: reward the ones who successfully walk the line between conformism and aggression, and pay attention to the ones who make you pay attention. Three words: "Team-building exercises"… the mere phrases makes me queasy. Why don't managers realize that the reason these things build camaraderie is because it unites everyone in their absolute loathing of the moronic and grating waste of time that they are? How does anyone think they're a good thing? Or, at least, that they're a good thing for everyone?
There is a section of the book which focuses on the Harvard Business School, and everything this author says about the school makes exquisite sense in terms of W's attendance there. For me, for introverts in general and those poor buggers who matriculate their introversion, it's another circle of hell. The title of an article from the HSB newspaper is quoted: "Arrogant, or Simply Confident?" Er. If you have to ask … Heh. If you have to ask, you might be an introvert.
A bit of an aside, from this section: "'It is approximately 2:30 PM, October 5th,' the students are told, 'and you have just crash-landed in a float place on the east shore of Laura Lake, in the subarctic region of the northern Quebec-Newfoundland border.' Um … huh? Newfoundland is an island, and so doesn't exactly share a border with any province; Quebec borders the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Also, this furthers a stupid stereotype that Newfoundland is glacial and filled with walruses and igloos. It's really not. Perhaps they meant Labrador? Also, Google Maps shows the lake is something like 13 hours from the coast. What idiot wrote this scenario?
Part of what helps make people successful, or perhaps simply a characteristic of successful people, is in their speech patterns. "Verbal fluency and sociability are the two most important predictors of success, according to a Stanford Business School study." Also, talking fast is seen as a good thing. Well, as the Mythbusters say, there's your problem. When I talk fast it's obviously nerves, not aggression or confidence. And, sadly, I'm one of those who waits for an opening to speak. I despise people who begin talking before I've finished a sentence – shockingly, customer service reps do it all the time; I've gotten into the habit of just finishing anyway. For me, it doesn't matter if the person I'm speaking to has just said something moronic (for instance, that Lake Laura is on the border of Newfoundland) or brilliant or anything in between that requires a response from me, I will wait for a pause before I interject. It's what I was brought up to call "politeness", and also ties into my own reserve. Apparently, what I see as basic manners is actually a hindrance to my success. Oh dear.
I unfortunately did not make note of who said it, but here's a quote that's sending me (and this review) on another tangent: "I'm sure Our Lord was [an extrovert]"… Really? How odd. I suppose every group tries to claim Jesus as one of their own, but I've never thought of Him as an extrovert. Charismatic, certainly; not shy, by any means; confident – well, sure, with God on His side… but extraverted? I really hesitate to class Christ in with some of the huckster evangelists making millions off his name.
Okay. Anyway. Another quote:
"Embarrassment reveals how much the individual cares about the rules that bind us to one another. … It's better to mind too much than to mind too little."
That's interesting. And it's true – the ones who are never embarrassed are the ones you have to be wary of. My sociopathic ex-boss was never embarrassed.
It suggests … that sensitive types think in an unusually complex fashion. It may also help explain why they're so bored by small talk. If you're thinking in more complicated ways … then talking about the weather, or where you went for the holidays, is not quite as interesting as talking about values or morality. The other thing Aaron found about sensitive people is that sometimes they are highly empathic. It's as if they have thinner boundaries, separating them from other people's emotions, and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world. They tend to have unusually strong consciences. They avoid violent movies and tv shows. They're acutely aware of the consequences of a lapse in their own behavior. In social settings they often focus on subjects like personal problems which others consider "too heavy"….
"The description of such characters as "thin-skinned" is meant metaphorically, but it turns out it is actually quite literal … skin conductance tests … High-reactive introverts sweat more."
Fabulous. Shoot me now. Yup, this book is all about me. (Except I love Criminal Minds, and when I spent a solid week a while back catching up on Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones I tended to walk away from my computer dazed at the enormous body count.)
I've gone through my life saying – or at least thinking – Don't you see that? Don't you hear that? Well, now I know – they, whoever they are at any given moment, might not see or hear – or feel or understand – whatever it is I do. I've said elsewhere that my sociopathic ex-boss loved to refer to me on every possible occasion as the office's "bleeding heart liberal". And here I learn that that hasn't been entirely a choice with me. I am wired to cry at Hallmark commercials and well up when someone else – even a complete stranger on tv – cries.
Yay. Bloody amygdala. Bloody pain in the arse amygdala.
How nice – how calm and unstressful and unteary – it must be to function at a lower level of empathy and heart-bleeding.
I loved the tidbits about the "Griselda moods" of Eleanor Roosevelt – "named for a princess in a medieval legend who retreated into silence". Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt – having two such standouts among "my people" makes it all seem a little less dreadful.
I loved the example of "The Bus to Abilene": "about a family sitting on a porch in Texas on a hot summer day and somebody says, 'I am bored. Why don't we go to Abilene?' When they get to Abilene, somebody says, 'You know, I didn't really want to go'. And the next person says, 'I didn't want to go – I thought you wanted to go' and so on…. The Bus to Abilene anecdote reveals our tendency to follow those who initiate an action – any action." The ones who speak up control the actions of the rest – especially those of us who hesitate to express an opinion.
This was a fascinating book; it was enlightening; it was clarifying. As I said at some point earlier, it is good in a way to know that, for the most part, I couldn't have handled a great many situations in my life very much differently. I’m wired to behave as I do. Also … knowing I'm not alone in this is, I suppose, also good. The introverts are the ones who don't network and make a splash, which means you can be in a room with ten introverts and two extraverts and it's the latter pair you – and the introverts – will remember later. Whereas each of those ten introverts will go away thinking they were the only ones who were uncomfortable and itching to get out. What a shame. If those ten introverts could get together, they might have a better time. Then again, getting together is antithetical to their nature, so … basically? The upshot? It sucks to be an introvert.
On the whole, though, I'm not sure what reading this accomplishes. It's startling to read (listen to) a really damned accurate description of my own personality, and to learn that there have been scientific studies done on people exactly like me to find out why we are like me.
It's nice to have confirmation that there are scientific reasons why to me the word "party" does not mean happy times, and that there are plenty of other people who feel the same way.
I think I understand better now why some people love Bosch and death metal and bull fights, when I prefer Vermeer and Billy Joel and the Puppy Bowl.
But I don't really need validation. I'm old(ish). I've (finally) reached a point in my life where I know my limits, know when I can push them and when I'd be better off not, know how to fake it when I have no choice. "Power"? In a world which disregards those who don't push themselves forward? No.
Not really. There were some interesting snippets in the book about how introversion is identifiable in infants, how introverts like to interact, etc... but there was also a huge amount of "false science" that was disappointing for a book that takes itself so seriously. I guess what do you expect when the author is not an academic but a lawyer.
For example, there were sweeping statements that were not validated by data - e.g. Her claim that the culture of open offices and cubicles is unpopular among employees and unfriendly to introverts. This is based on polls of a handful of employees at 3 companies that had a cubicle layout... and they were all high-tech companies which statistically are more likely to attract introverts.
Another example of false science: Her claim that results produced by a team are inferior to results produced by individuals working by themselves. She cites one study that asked people to come up with a list of creative ideas, and the individuals had more ideas than the team. Uhm, ok. There was nothing about the quality of the ideas, the applicability of this stupid study to the real world, the numerous other academic studies that show the benefits of teamwork... This passes for science?
I could summarize the "useful" elements of this book in about ten pages, and the rest is a bunch of these types of sweeping generalizations not supported by data and not thoroughly argued.
This might work for you in court while pushing an agenda, but you owe your readers an objective stance and a careful weighing of arguments when you write a book like this. Or at least, have a real academic proof read it before it hits the presses.
See above - the repeated use of false science and sweeping statements not backed by data, evidence or logic - truly appalling.
No - the narration was really really boring and sad. Her voice was almost whisper-soft and hesitant... it felt like she was about to burst into tears at any point, and needed an arm around her shoulder to comfort her... it just made me sad to listen to it.
On the bright side, she'd be fantastic for eulogies.
Insightful, thought-provoking, inconsistent
N/a - non-fiction
Anyone with a stronger voice. It was exasperating to listen to such a soft, whispery voice. Yeah, the book's title is Quiet, but that shouldn't have been the way it was read.
The author provided excellent points about the fact that not all introverts are shy, but then sometimes contradicted herself with guidance about how to overcome shyness as a general strategy. But it was helpful more times than not.
It became preachy and I was not looking for a religious book and stopped listening not too far into it.
Every Day is an Atheist Holiday
The irrelevant superstition stuff.
Letting the rest of the world go by
An enjoyable read. The author puts herself in the story to good effect. You, the reader, will discover things about yourself that you probably weren't aware of. I recommend taking the introvert/extrovert quiz in the book at the 31:30 mark of the first chapter before you start reading the book. Also, if you don't know where you are on the sensitive/intuitive scale take a sensitive/intuitive quick assessment test you can find on the internet before you start reading the book. The will make those sections of the book all the more interesting.
Absolutely! Even if my friend is an extrovert it is very insightful. We all know both personality types as a whole, this book provides a perspective that we do not normally get.
What I liked was that first of all, it confirmed that I am "normal" HA! But also I loved the discussion on different cultures and what is typical outside of America, such as Asian culture.
This book made me do tons of research and it started a conversation!
This is a very important book for introverts seeking to understand themselves and defend themselves in a society dominated by extroverts. (I'm afraid it is too much to expect extroverts to read this book as they are always sure they are right and that everyone including introverts needs to take part in all the fun social and collaborative projects they dream up.) Especially important are the sections on workplace practices designed by extroverts that border on being abusive to introverts.
I hope the 25% of the population that are introverts will be moved by this book to stand up for themselves in social, family and workplaces situations where extroverts rule.
Science writer in America's heartland
...Or any manager, for that matter. This book offers strong, research-based strategies for enabling introverted employees -- who are often the creative heart of a company-- to work to their full potential. Perhaps the stronger message for managers would be: if you force introverts to work like extroverts, e.g. ordering them to "brainstorm," or work in teams, or work in loud, busy places with no privacy, you will reap less benefit from their hard work. Cain demonstrates that both introverts and extroverts have important roles to play in business, families, and society. We all benefit if we just let ourselves be who we are.
In regards to the narrator, Mazur has a soothing voice that befits the subject matter of a book called "Quiet."
Say something about yourself!
This is a really excellent exploration of the quiet nature of people. It goes beyond simple categories of introverted or extroverted and discusses why people have these traits. Best of all there are a number of suggestions on how to get the most out of both your quiet and your boisterous self.
I'm Trying to see the world with my ears.
This is hardly an impartial review. As somebody who has been called at some point or another the gamut of terms associated with introversion, from "shy" (which I don't object) to "anti-social" (which I most certainly consider unfair), I found in Susan Cain's "Quiet," the validation and appreciation many introverts have been searching for.